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Will the U.S. Follow Canada and Mexico in Legalizing Marijuana?

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Vector banner for legalize marijuana with hemp leaf and statue of liberty on the background of american flag.

by Paul Fassa
Health Impact News

The cascade of cannabis legality now and in the near future is better than expected from a decade or so ago. It’s been a state-by-state struggle the whole time while leaving the federal law against cannabis intact.

More and more states are voting on medical cannabis use that haven’t allowed it thus far, and some of those who have allowed medical marijuana are looking into opening it up for “recreational” use. 

One example of a state that may see some relaxing of marijuana laws, at least medically, is the state of Utah.

Utah state senator Jim Dabakis went to Las Vegas Nevada to personally try a pot edible, a gummy bear, and openly claimed on social media that it was “no big deal,” adding:

Maybe nobody on this floor [Utah State Congress] has ever tried marijuana. I think if the Legislature would actually try it they would find it and realize this is no big deal, and at least let those who are suffering have the help that they need. (Source) [1]

This domino effect state-by-state legislation is encouraging, but it leads to regional confusions and conflicts while leaving open the possibility of federal interventions that could disrupt existing cannabis trade, medically or otherwise. 

Even worse, it stymies federally funded research that would help isolate which cannabis strains are effective for different diseases.

Israel has been a major pioneer in cannabis research simply because it nationalized weed for medicinal purposes.  

Some American states don’t allow even medical cannabis, imposing the need for those with seriously ill close relatives to relocate into more medical marijuana-friendly states or go underground for purchasing cannabis oil.

Media Activism is Challenging USA Cannabis Federal Prohibition for Medical Purposes

A documentary that dramatizes this dilemma has been recently released for touring in select theaters.

This documentary is called “Weed the People,” and it covers five families who have put themselves into legal jeopardy by treating their cancer-ridden children with cannabis oil or its variations. One of the parents in the documentary was quoted as saying:

Out of the billions of dollars spent on cancer research, the medicine we rely on is made in someone’s kitchen.

Another parent featured in the documentary added:

When your kid has got cancer, the rulebook goes out the window, really. 

 The following video is an extended trailer of the documentary “Weed the People”.

You can find out more about this documentary and look over its national tour screening schedule here. [2]

Other Nations Have Surpassed America in National Legalization; Soon to Be Coming Here?

There is mounting evidence that Mexico, which has been in the process of allowing cannabis medically, will be pulling the curtain back completely and legalizing it without restriction.

Under the president-elect of Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez will have Marcelo Ebrard as his administration’s foreign minister this December 2018.

Ebrard is investigating two other nations’ current situations after legalizing cannabis, saying he’s looking into both the Uruguay and Canadian models of national legalization.

He has already met with Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland in Ottowa where cannabis was legalized for all purposes.

Ebrard told reporters:

[Regarding cannabis legalization for Mexico] Sure, absolutely. We think it is a very interesting option in the short term for Mexico. We think there are two options: the Canadian model or the Uruguay model.

It doesn’t make sense to have a law forbidding the possession or production of cannabis and we have 9,000 people in jail for that, we have a huge amount of violence in the country. You spend a huge amount of money (on policing), you cause suffering for a lot of people and it doesn’t make sense.

Prohibition doesn’t work, you have the cannabis anyway. (Source) [3]

When Mexico goes full legal with cannabis, medical and beyond, the USA will be bordered by two nations federally sanctioning all-purpose cannabis (marijuana) use while the USA nationally resists. 

This has already begun with Canada. The same issues will be south of the border when Mexico goes fully legal with all-purpose cannabis use.

Incidentally, the Canadian cannabis situation has developed rapidly into an economic boom. An October 2018 Forbes article [4], Canada’s Legal Cannabis Will Change Everything, points to the October 17th date when Canada legalized cannabis for all use nationwide, beginning with:

As cannabis sales become legal in Canada, the country will move ahead of the U.S. in reaping the benefits.

Many of the benefits mentioned in the article include financial benefits, not only to growers and distributors, but also to investors. One Canadian cannabis group had already made it onto the board in the New York Stock Exchange.

Then it goes on to mention how Canadian scientists and medical practitioners will be able to openly research and experiment cannabis unfettered with legal complications while research in the USA is hampered. (Source) [4]

All-Purpose Use Legalization Makes It All Less Complicated

Some argue that only medical marijuana should be sanctioned.

But that leads to over complicating usage matters. Those states that permit medical use allow its use only on diseases bureaucratic decision makers choose. 

Often these decisions leave many out in the cold for health conditions not sanctioned as worthy of exemption from prohibitive federal marijuana laws. 

Some states enforce a policy of having exhausted every allopathic (mainstream medical) treatment available before issuing an exemption card that protects one from arrest.

A cancer patient can be half-dead and financially drained from chemo and radiation before he or she gets a card to use cannabis for reversing cancer.

This situation doesn’t happen if cannabis is approved or exempt from legal consequences unconditionally. 

As soon as one is diagnosed or knows what’s ailing, one can seek the necessary cannabis strain from an over-the-counter legal cannabis dispensary, usually as an oil to ensure full medical application, without being concerned about law enforcement.

The Upcoming Challenge for Legalizing Cannabis Nationwide

But the biggest challenge may be coming sometime this come Spring, 2019. That’s when Congressional hearings should proceed regarding national legalization. 

But there are two individuals named “Sessions” that are hindering this progress.

One is the well-known visible personage of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The other Sessions is not as visible. 

Using his power as the chair of the House Rules Committee, Congressman Pete Sessions is the chair of the House Rules Committee. Cannabis activists claim he has been blocking popular amendments to expand and protect legal marijuana from making it to the House floor.

It is backdoor politics at its worst, blocking legislation from even getting known enough to discuss, much less vote on.

There is a petition against his actions that you can access here. [5]

However, a congressional cannabis advocate, Representative Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican, has helped forge a bipartisan coalition that supports legalizing cannabis nationally for medical applications, at least. 

Rohrabacher optimistically claims President Trump is on the side of this coalition and he will approve legislation that passes the House and Senate in favor of nationwide medical cannabis approval while leaving recreational use up to each state individually. (Source) [6]

Of course, that’s if it gets past the other Sessions who has been blocking efforts to improve cannabis status nationally as chairman of the House Rules Committee.

Another issue is whether Rohrabacher gets re-elected in the November 2018 election. 

We shall see in the first half of 2019 if progress will be made on a national level to eliminate the confusions and obstacles blocking access to cannabis use medically and the proper research it deserves.